The Human Shield (1991) – Review

1 1/2 Stars

The producers of the action flick The Human Shield loudly proclaim this B-movie as the first ‘film to deal with the Iraq war!”. That sadly positions this flick as The Deer Hunter or Apocalypse Now of Operation Desert Storm, something which it is most definitely not. The Human Shield is a moderately entertaining action/drama with a typically understated lead performance from the American Ninja Michael Dudikoff. Directed by Ted Post, also responsible for Chuck Norris’ Good Guys Wear Black and Eastwood’s Magnum Force, this very 90s tale is watchable, but not memorable.

Douglas Matthews was in Iraq back in 1985, long before the invasion of Kuwait. During his stint in the desert, Doug had a falling out with a despicable General named Dallal. The dispute erupted over the decision to murder woman and children on a raid of villagers. Doug ended up intervening and during the ensuing conflict scarred Dallal for life. Now, five years later Doug’s brother has been detained trying to flea the area with the threat of impending war.

Jailed without cause and held with no legal representation, the American is without hope until he learns that his brother has re-entered Iraq. Of course, General Dallal is just using the brother as human bait to lure Doug back into a showdown that will resolve the grudge. Mixed into the drama is the affection of Dallal’s wife a lovely doctor, who once had a relationship with Matthews before his exile.

Having been released through the Cannon films banner, there is a level of quality that isn’t present in B-movies from later in the era. Production values are sharp and the direction makes good use of a presumed small budget. Dudikoff is really good at playing the same archetype in role after role, I appreciate his minimalistic acting style. It is a ‘choice’ to present himself this way on-screen as opposed to Seagal’s minimalistic approach of mumbling and not giving a shit.

Director: Ted Post
Stars: Michael Dudikoff, Tommy Hinkley, Hanna Azoulay Hasfari

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